AP Human Geography : Density, Distribution, & Scale

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Human Geography

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Density, Distribution, & Scale

The geographic term “ecumene” is used to describe __________.

Possible Answers:

a prolonged situation of zero population growth

arable land suitable for farming

patterns of migration around the world

permanently populated land

industrial sectors of a society

Correct answer:

permanently populated land

Explanation:

The geographic term “ecumene” is used to describe land that is permanently populated by human society. It can also refer to industrial and agricultural land that is permanently used to sustain the human population.

Example Question #2 : Density, Distribution, & Scale

More than three-quarters of the world’s population lives in __________.

Possible Answers:

Africa and Europe

the Americas

East Asia

the developed world

the developing world

Correct answer:

the developing world

Explanation:

More than three-quarters of the world’s population lives in the developing world. The term “developing world” is generally used to refer to countries that do not have highly modernized and industrial economies.

Example Question #3 : Density, Distribution, & Scale

Which of these statements about the growth of world population throughout the history of civilization is most accurate?

Possible Answers:

Population has always grown most dramatically in the poorest countries

For many thousands of years the population remained static, until the Industrial Revolution, when the population skyrocketed

Population has always grown most dramatically in the wealthiest countries

For many thousands of years the population climbed consistently and slowly, until the Industrial Revolution, when the population skyrocketed

Disease and natural disasters caused the population to steadily decline, until the Scientific Revolution, when this trend was reversed

Correct answer:

For many thousands of years the population climbed consistently and slowly, until the Industrial Revolution, when the population skyrocketed

Explanation:

Since roughly eight to ten thousand years ago, the population of humanity has climbed consistently, but gradually; however, beginning in the late eighteenth century in England, the Industrial Revolution changed everything. Technological, medical, and economic innovations have greatly increased the number of people that the planet can reasonably support. In the last two hundred years, the population has grown from one billion to over seven billion people.

Example Question #4 : Density, Distribution, & Scale

In 2014, which of these countries had the highest population density?

Possible Answers:

The Netherlands

India

China

Germany

Brazil

Correct answer:

The Netherlands

Explanation:

China, India, Brazil, and Germany each have a larger population than the Netherlands, but they also all have much more land available in which to house that population. Remember, population density is based on the number of people divided by the land size. So a country with a large population and a small land size will have a very high population density. This is true of many European countries, particularly Northern European countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, and Great Britain. You might not have known the different population densities of these five countries, but you need to know that Northern Europe is an especially densely populated part of the world.

Example Question #4 : Density, Distribution, & Scale

Which of these countries would you expect to have the lowest population density?

Possible Answers:

China

India

France

Japan

Canada

Correct answer:

Canada

Explanation:

Almost all of Western Europe (including France) has a very high population density because a very large number of people live in a relatively small space. The same is true of Japan (which has one of the highest population densities on Earth). Although China and India are both very large countries by land size they are also the two most heavily populated nations on Earth and so are still relatively densely populated. Of these choices only Canada is both extremely large in land-size and relatively unpopulated. Approximately thirty million people live in Canada and it is either the largest or second largest country on Earth (depending on how you measure the polar region). It is one of the least densely populated countries in the world.

Example Question #4 : Density, Distribution, & Scale

When did the population of Earth reach one billion for the first time?

Possible Answers:

During the early nineteenth century

During the mid-nineteenth century

During the late nineteenth century

During the mid-twentieth century

During the early twentieth century

Correct answer:

During the early nineteenth century

Explanation:

For most of human history, the population of Earth has climbed steadily and slowly, but in the eighteenth century (with the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution in Britain) the population began to grow dramatically. By the first decade of the nineteenth century, the population of Earth was around one billion for the first time in human history. In just over a century, the population would double again to two billion. The population is now in excess of seven billion and still climbing.

Example Question #6 : Density, Distribution, & Scale

Where in the United States would you expect population density to be the highest?

Possible Answers:

The Great Plains

The Rocky Mountains

The Deep South

New York City

Los Angeles

Correct answer:

New York City

Explanation:

Population density refers to the number of people who live in a defined land area (usually square miles or square kilometers). So, if two million people live in ten square miles, the population density is two hundred thousand people per square mile. Population density is usually highest in urban areas, specifically cities like New York City, which keep growing but have a maximum land area. Los Angeles has a similar population level to New York City, but much more room for that population to inhabit. Of course, Los Angeles would still have a much higher population density than, say, the Rocky Mountains or the Alaskan wilderness.

Example Question #7 : Density, Distribution, & Scale

Which two continents currently have in excess of one billion people living in them?

Possible Answers:

Asia and Europe

Asia and Africa

Europe and North America

North America and Asia

Europe and Africa

Correct answer:

Asia and Africa

Explanation:

More than half of the world’s seven billion people live in Asia. The next highest continent is Africa, with a little over a billion people. Approximately seven hundred million people live in Europe; four hundred million in South America; five hundred million in North America.

Example Question #5 : Density, Distribution, & Scale

Which of these definitions best describes a “primate city”?

Possible Answers:

A city that owes much of its existence and prosperity to the wealth of a nearby, much larger city

None of the other answers are correct

An isolated city that developed independently of the rest of the region

A city whose cultural significance greatly exceeds its economic output

The biggest city in a region that is disproportionately larger than surrounding urban areas

Correct answer:

The biggest city in a region that is disproportionately larger than surrounding urban areas

Explanation:

A “primate city” is the largest city in a region. In order to be a “primate city” it must be disproportionately bigger than other cities in the region, primarily because those people who live in the surrounding area migrate to the “primate city” in search of work, education, or entertainment.

Example Question #9 : Density, Distribution, & Scale

Which of these continents is the least heavily populated?

Possible Answers:

Europe

North America

Africa

Oceania

South America

Correct answer:

Oceania

Explanation:

Oceania (which includes Australia, New Zealand, and many of the surrounding Pacific Islands) is by far the least heavily populated continent on Earth—excluding, obviously, Antarctica. Oceania has less than fifty million people living there. The next lowest—South America—has a population of four hundred million people.

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